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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wikileaks releasing Saudi diplomatic cables on: June 20, 2015, 12:44:38 PM
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lott's integrity and honesty impugned on: June 20, 2015, 12:20:39 PM
This seems to me a big deal.  Lott is one of the big guns on our side.
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: June 19, 2015, 10:04:09 PM
Good to have you with us once again BBG!
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scotland on: June 19, 2015, 03:35:19 PM
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: June 19, 2015, 11:38:01 AM
Look, everyone here is for strong and decisive enforcement of our border and our laws, so to criticize Trump is not to criticize that.

Go back to Trump's announcement speech and listen to the passage where he speaks about Mexico and the people who come here from there.  It made me cringe.
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: June 18, 2015, 10:18:35 PM
A retort not without wit, but the issue remains.  The Latino demographic is growing and the current Rep demographic is declining.

We lost the Latino vote here in CA by passing Prop 187 (for the record I voted for it) and now we are a one party state.
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: June 18, 2015, 10:16:33 PM
Now THAT is how to sound  bite an answer!!!
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tin foil hat conspiracy stuff 2.0 on: June 18, 2015, 10:08:28 PM
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: June 18, 2015, 07:54:10 PM
Looks like you are on the right track:
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul's WSJ piece on his tax proposal on: June 18, 2015, 04:35:29 PM

Rand Paul
June 17, 2015 7:09 p.m. ET

Some of my fellow Republican candidates for the presidency have proposed plans to fix the tax system. These proposals are a step in the right direction, but the tax code has grown so corrupt, complicated, intrusive and antigrowth that I’ve concluded the system isn’t fixable.

So on Thursday I am announcing an over $2 trillion tax cut that would repeal the entire IRS tax code—more than 70,000 pages—and replace it with a low, broad-based tax of 14.5% on individuals and businesses. I would eliminate nearly every special-interest loophole. The plan also eliminates the payroll tax on workers and several federal taxes outright, including gift and estate taxes, telephone taxes, and all duties and tariffs. I call this “The Fair and Flat Tax.”
Assistant Editorial Page Editor James Freeman compares presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Rand Paul’s tax proposals. Plus, the Fed’s latest fumble. Photo credit: Getty Images.

President Obama talks about “middle-class economics,” but his redistribution policies have led to rising income inequality and negative income gains for families. Here’s what I propose for the middle class: The Fair and Flat Tax eliminates payroll taxes, which are seized by the IRS from a worker’s paychecks before a family ever sees the money. This will boost the incentive for employers to hire more workers, and raise after-tax income by at least 15% over 10 years.

Here’s why we have to start over with the tax code. From 2001 until 2010, there were at least 4,430 changes to tax laws—an average of one “fix” a day—always promising more fairness, more simplicity or more growth stimulants. And every year the Internal Revenue Code grows absurdly more incomprehensible, as if it were designed as a jobs program for accountants, IRS agents and tax attorneys.

Polls show that “fairness” is a top goal for Americans in our tax system. I envision a traditionally All-American solution: Everyone plays by the same rules. This means no one of privilege, wealth or with an arsenal of lobbyists can game the system to pay a lower rate than working Americans.

Most important, a smart tax system must turbocharge the economy and pull America out of the slow-growth rut of the past decade. We are already at least $2 trillion behind where we should be with a normal recovery; the growth gap widens every month. Even Mr. Obama’s economic advisers tell him that the U.S. corporate tax code, which has the highest rates in the world (35%), is an economic drag. When an iconic American company like Burger King wants to renounce its citizenship for Canada because that country’s tax rates are so much lower, there’s a fundamental problem.

Another increasingly obvious danger of our current tax code is the empowerment of a rogue agency, the IRS, to examine the most private financial and lifestyle information of every American citizen. We now know that the IRS, through political hacks like former IRS official Lois Lerner, routinely abused its auditing power to build an enemies list and harass anyone who might be adversarial to President Obama’s policies. A convoluted tax code enables these corrupt tactics.

My tax plan would blow up the tax code and start over. In consultation with some of the top tax experts in the country, including the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, I devised a 21st-century tax code that would establish a 14.5% flat-rate tax applied equally to all personal income, including wages, salaries, dividends, capital gains, rents and interest. All deductions except for a mortgage and charities would be eliminated. The first $50,000 of income for a family of four would not be taxed. For low-income working families, the plan would retain the earned-income tax credit.
Opinion Journal Video
Assistant Editorial Page Editor James Freeman compares presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Rand Paul’s tax proposals. Plus, the Fed’s latest fumble. Photo credit: Getty Images.

I would also apply this uniform 14.5% business-activity tax on all companies—down from as high as nearly 40% for small businesses and 35% for corporations. This tax would be levied on revenues minus allowable expenses, such as the purchase of parts, computers and office equipment. All capital purchases would be immediately expensed, ending complicated depreciation schedules.

The immediate question everyone asks is: Won’t this 14.5% tax plan blow a massive hole in the budget deficit? As a senator, I have proposed balanced budgets and I pledge to balance the budget as president.

Here’s why this plan would balance the budget: We asked the experts at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation to estimate what this plan would mean for jobs, and whether we are raising enough money to fund the government. The analysis is positive news: The plan is an economic steroid injection. Because the Fair and Flat Tax rewards work, saving, investment and small business creation, the Tax Foundation estimates that in 10 years it will increase gross domestic product by about 10%, and create at least 1.4 million new jobs.

And because the best way to balance the budget and pay down government debt is to put Americans back to work, my plan would actually reduce the national debt by trillions of dollars over time when combined with my package of spending cuts.

The left will argue that the plan is a tax cut for the wealthy. But most of the loopholes in the tax code were designed by the rich and politically connected. Though the rich will pay a lower rate along with everyone else, they won’t have special provisions to avoid paying lower than 14.5%.

The challenge to this plan will be to overcome special-interest groups in Washington who will muster all of their political muscle to save corporate welfare. That’s what happened to my friend Steve Forbes when he ran for president in 1996 on the idea of the flat tax. Though the flat tax was surprisingly popular with voters for its simplicity and its capacity to boost the economy, crony capitalists and lobbyists exploded his noble crusade.

Today, the American people see the rot in the system that is degrading our economy day after day and want it to end. That is exactly what the Fair and Flat Tax will do through a plan that’s the boldest restoration of fairness to American taxpayers in over a century.

Sen. Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, is running for his party’s presidential nomination.
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Blumenthal's emails on: June 18, 2015, 02:01:40 PM

Sid Blumenthal’s Email Discovery
The slow roll of Libya-related communication continues.
June 17, 2015 7:20 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton says she turned over to the State Department “all” of the emails from her private email account related to her work as Secretary of State. And State has reassured Congress that it turned over “every” Clinton email demanded as part of the House investigation into the Benghazi attack. This must depend on the definition of “all” and “every.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi recently sent subpoenas to Sidney Blumenthal, the longtime Clinton political hit man who was in steady contact with Mrs. Clinton (via her private email) while she was the top U.S. diplomat. Emails show Mr. Blumenthal was advising two U.S. companies seeking Libyan contracts at the same time he was secretly advising Secretary of State Clinton about Libya. Mr. Blumenthal’s attorney says his client had no financial interest in the two companies—though no one is denying that the friends of Mr. Blumenthal who ran the companies were looking for business.

So imagine Congress’s surprise on Friday when Mr. Blumenthal responded to a subpoena by turning over 60 more Libya-related communications with Mrs. Clinton—some 120 pages. Politico reports that Members of Congress still aren’t sure whether Mrs. Clinton failed to give the emails to State, or State failed to give the emails to Congress, which is likely to release the new emails in the coming days.

State’s excuse for the omission is that it thought the subpoena was only for Mrs. Clinton’s Benghazi-related email (not broader Libya correspondence). This is hard to believe given that Congress’s initial early-December request—to State and Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer—begins: “Please provide, as soon as possible but no later than Dec. 31, 2014, any and all documents and communications referring or relating to a.) Libya (including but not limited to Benghazi and Tripoli) . . .” There’s that “all” word again.

There’s a reason Mrs. Clinton kept control over her server, and deleted an unknown number of emails, and it’s the same reason she now won’t let an outside party review her records. She wants the public to see as little as possible so she can have an accountability-free pass to the White House.

(That and she wants to avoid felony charges that would/should lead to jail time-- Marc)
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: June 18, 2015, 02:00:01 PM

    Real Estate


    Review & Outlook

Sid Blumenthal’s Email Discovery
The slow roll of Libya-related communication continues.
Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant to former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton ENLARGE
Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant to former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton Photo: Associated Press
June 17, 2015 7:20 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton says she turned over to the State Department “all” of the emails from her private email account related to her work as Secretary of State. And State has reassured Congress that it turned over “every” Clinton email demanded as part of the House investigation into the Benghazi attack. This must depend on the definition of “all” and “every.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi recently sent subpoenas to Sidney Blumenthal, the longtime Clinton political hit man who was in steady contact with Mrs. Clinton (via her private email) while she was the top U.S. diplomat. Emails show Mr. Blumenthal was advising two U.S. companies seeking Libyan contracts at the same time he was secretly advising Secretary of State Clinton about Libya. Mr. Blumenthal’s attorney says his client had no financial interest in the two companies—though no one is denying that the friends of Mr. Blumenthal who ran the companies were looking for business.

So imagine Congress’s surprise on Friday when Mr. Blumenthal responded to a subpoena by turning over 60 more Libya-related communications with Mrs. Clinton—some 120 pages. Politico reports that Members of Congress still aren’t sure whether Mrs. Clinton failed to give the emails to State, or State failed to give the emails to Congress, which is likely to release the new emails in the coming days.

State’s excuse for the omission is that it thought the subpoena was only for Mrs. Clinton’s Benghazi-related email (not broader Libya correspondence). This is hard to believe given that Congress’s initial early-December request—to State and Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer—begins: “Please provide, as soon as possible but no later than Dec. 31, 2014, any and all documents and communications referring or relating to a.) Libya (including but not limited to Benghazi and Tripoli) . . .” There’s that “all” word again.

There’s a reason Mrs. Clinton kept control over her server, and deleted an unknown number of emails, and it’s the same reason she now won’t let an outside party review her records. She wants the public to see as little as possible so she can have an accountability-free pass to the White House.
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Rubio's tax plan 2.0 on: June 18, 2015, 01:57:42 PM
 Marco Rubio has many strengths as a presidential candidate, not least a focus on restoring broad-based economic opportunity and the talent to communicate his ideas. Which is all the more reason to lament that he’s taken a major detour from pro-growth tax reform.

The proposal he’s developed with Utah Senator Mike Lee does have some strong pro-growth components for business and investment. It lowers the corporate rate to 25% from 35% and zeroes out the double taxation of dividends, capital gains and interest at the individual level. The plan also introduces full expensing for capital purchases (instead of arbitrary depreciation schedules) and the global norm of a territorial tax for corporate profits.

This would be real progress. In a March analysis, the Tax Foundation estimates that Rubio-Lee would juice GDP by 1.44% on average each year over the next decade, 15% in total. Because the incidence of the corporate tax is shared among workers, capital owners and customers, the study expects real hourly wages will soar by 12.5% on average.

The bad news, and it’s considerable, is that these gains are accompanied by a major increase in the child tax credit. This credit was created in 1997, and after a George W. Bush expansion it now provides $1,000 a year for each dependent under 17, phasing out between $75,000 to $95,000 for single filers and $110,000-$130,000 for families.
Opinion Journal Video
Committee to Unleash Prosperity Co-founder Steve Moore on the return of the Republican Party's 'Pat Buchanan' wing. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Rubio-Lee would raise the credit to $2,500 per head. The left-leaning Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimates this would forgo revenue of $1.576 trillion over a decade. The Tax Foundation estimate is in the same ballpark—notably, on both a static budget basis and using dynamic scoring.

The reason is that unlike the investment portions of Rubio-Lee, the child tax credit does nothing for economic growth. The only growth case for it is the Keynesian claim that it would boost consumer spending and aggregate demand, but by now we’ve seen how that doesn’t work.

The tax credit also harms incentives because it phases out as incomes rise and thus creates fearsome infra-marginal tax cliffs that make it harder to escape poverty. Rubio-Lee tries to avoid this problem in part by making the $2,500 credit universal, regardless of income. But the cost of the credit for affluent families will never withstand political vetting and so an income phaseout is likely to remain.

This fiscal baby shower means Messrs. Rubio and Lee don’t reduce the top individual income rate lower than 35%. Their individual tax simplification collapses the current seven tax brackets down to two, with the lower bound 15%. But here’s a major rub: To compensate for the cost of the child credit, their 35% rate reaches down the income ladder to start at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers. The top statutory rate of 39.6%—43.4% counting the ObamaCare surtax—now kicks in at $464,851 for joint filers.

Marginal rates on income would fall “on net,” according to the Tax Foundation analysis, though only modestly and “those in the 10% bracket and some in higher brackets would see the tax rate on their last dollar of income increase.” The TPC estimates 62% of households would see a lower tax liability, with the most substantial benefits flowing to married couples and especially those with children.

Never mind, whisper supporters, the main appeal of the child credit is political: It polls well and it makes the income tax distributional tables look better, potentially mitigating some class-warfare opposition.

But there are also big political problems. One is that child subsidies concede the use of the tax code for social policy, and more political mediation over neutrality and individual decisions. By dumping the goal of a cleaner, more neutral code, Republicans will have less credibility to oppose liberal favoritism. Democrats can always outbid Republicans on this kind of policy, starting with the demand that the credit be “refundable,” or paid in a check to those who have no tax liability.

Mr. Rubio concedes that the credit has no growth impact but says he has been persuaded by Mr. Lee that it is needed to offset the costs of the societal good of raising children. As they see it, the next generation will finance pay-as-you-go Social Security and Medicare. Thus parents deserve the offset of the credit more than childless workers.

But by this logic the government should reclaim the credit for children who turn out to be net taxpayer liabilities. It would be better policy simply to cut payroll taxes rather than add another layer of tax-credit complexity—or better yet, restructure entitlements so they are less of a drag on young workers.

The larger political danger would arrive if Mr. Rubio became President. In the inevitable negotiations with Congress, his tax cuts on capital would surely be watered down while his giant tax credit would pass. What happens if the economy failed to respond?

The precedent here is George W. Bush. In the 2001 tax law he pared back his campaign proposal and agreed to delay his marginal rate cuts. But he accepted tax rebates in two installments as well as the larger child credit. The economy showed a GDP fillip but then quickly flagged.

Only when Mr. Bush pushed in 2003 to accelerate the rate reductions and slashed the capital gains rate to 15% from 20% did the economy take off and save his re-election. Another tax cut that fails to boost growth could tarnish tax reform for a generation.

Mr. Rubio has let himself be swayed by a coterie of non-economist conservatives who view the tax code as an engine of social policy. This crowd denigrates marginal-rate cuts as politically déclassé, but then the child credit is one of the hoariest forms of tax gimmickry, an echo of Jimmy Carter’s New Jobs credit, or Mr. Bush in 2001 and his Pelosi tax rebates in 2008.

After a decade of sub-3% growth and stagnant middle-class incomes, the highest priority for the next President should be accelerating economic growth. What a pity that Mr. Rubio is compromising his otherwise laudable case for economic revival with a new entitlement for some families.
Popular on WSJ

114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump thinks Bill Clinton was best of the prez's after Reagan on: June 18, 2015, 01:50:06 PM
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: June 18, 2015, 12:43:16 PM
Unfortunately the phrases he uses will resonate and are hard to debate:

How do we effectively answer them?
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul's Tax Plan on: June 18, 2015, 11:07:13 AM
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on May CPI on: June 18, 2015, 10:52:50 AM

The Consumer Price Index Increased 0.4% in May To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 6/18/2015

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4% in May, coming in slightly below consensus expectations of 0.5%. The CPI is unchanged from a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) rose 0.5% in May, but is down 0.8% in the past year.
Energy prices rose 4.3% in May, while food prices were unchanged. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1% in May, below the consensus expected 0.2%. Core prices are up 1.7% versus a year ago.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – declined 0.1% in May, but are up 2.2% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 2.3% in the past year.

Implications: In the past four months the CPI has grown at a 3% annualized rate, the fastest pace since 2012. This is not just due to the recent (partial) rebound in energy prices: excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, the CPI is up at 2.4% annualized rate over the same period. Either way you look at it, the recent pace of inflation has been running above the Fed’s 2% target and could eventually put pressure on the Fed to raise rates faster than the market expects. Overall consumer prices rose 0.4% in May but are unchanged over the past twelve months. The lack of headline inflation in the past year is due to energy prices, which rose 4.3% in May but remain down 16.3% from a year ago. “Core” prices, which exclude food and energy, increased 0.1% in May, are up 1.7% in the past twelve months, 2.1% annualized in the last six months, and 2.4% annualized since January. In other words, core prices are gradually accelerating upward. With core prices so close to the Fed’s two percent inflation target, policymakers should remain concerned about future increases in inflation, even with overall consumer prices near zero. “Core” consumer prices in May were led higher by housing. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the CPI, rose 0.3% in May, is up 2.8% in the past year, up at a 3.2% annual rate in the past three months, and will be a key source of higher inflation in the year ahead. Some analysts will use the fact that overall prices are flat from a year ago to warn about “Deflation.” But true deflation – of the kind we ought to be concerned about – is caused by overly tight monetary policy and price declines that are widespread, not isolated to one sector of the economy. Think of the Great Depression. On the earnings front, “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings declined 0.1% in May, but are up a healthy 2.2% in the past year. In other news this morning, initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 12,000 last week to 267,000, the 15th straight week below 300,000. Continuing claims for regular state benefits dropped 50,000 to 2.22 million. These figures are consistent with payroll growth of about 230,000 in June. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed index, a measure of strength in East Coast manufacturing, jumped to 15.2 in June, the highest so far this year, from 6.7 in May, supporting the case that the economy is reaccelerating after temporary headwinds in the first quarter.
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dana Perrino on her period on: June 18, 2015, 10:47:49 AM
I like Dana a lot, but she lost composure a bit here.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Boston Muslims struggle with image on: June 18, 2015, 10:22:19 AM

BOSTON — Yusufi Vali was hunched over his computer at this city’s biggest mosque, where he is executive director, when the first phone call came. The police had killed a man a few miles away. Soon there were reports that the man was a Muslim who had been under investigation for terrorism.

And so the news media inquiries began. More than 100 calls came to the mosque over the next few days. Mr. Vali would explain, over and over, that the young man fatally shot after pulling a knife on the police on June 2 had only the slightest connection to the mosque: He had been hired by a security contractor to guard the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan in 2013.

No, he was not a regular at prayers. No, Mr. Vali did not recall meeting him. No, he could not shed light on any reported plan to behead a police officer, except to say that such a thing would be abhorrent.

“It weighs on you,” Mr. Vali, a rail-slender 31-year-old Princeton graduate, said of the fallout from the latest allegations of terrorist plotting in the name of Islam. “I don’t have control over what these people do. It’s frustrating to have it put on us.”

To be Muslim in America today means to be held responsible, or to fear you may be, for the brutal acts of others whose notion of what Allah demands is utterly antithetical to your own. For the diverse crowd that prays at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, where professors at nearby universities mix with freshly arrived immigrants from Somalia and Egypt, it means hearing the word “Islamic” first thing each morning in news reports on an infamous extremist group. It means a kind of implied collective responsibility, however illogical, for beheadings in Syria, executions in Iraq and bombs in Boston.

For the estimated 70,000 Muslims in the city and suburbs, there are particular pressures. For more than two years, since the bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the city has been transfixed by the tragedy’s aftermath. For more than six years, a tiny organization with an anodyne name, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has publicly claimed in newspaper ads and web postings that Boston’s Muslim institutions are led by extremists and terrorist sympathizers.

And in some mosques, tensions have played out between conservatives, some with deep roots in the Middle East, and more liberal worshipers. The former imam at the Boston center, William Suhaib Webb, who moved to Washington last year, recalled that after a sermon expressing a tolerant view of what Islam allows, a congregant told him bluntly: “You’re not a Muslim.”

On the grounds of the Boston center, a soaring mosque with a minaret and red-brick construction meant to honor New England tradition, work is underway to turn an abandoned swimming pool into a formal Islamic-style garden. It was to be called the “Terrace Garden,” until some jaw-dropping reactions showed that some people thought they were hearing “terrorist garden.” The project was quietly renamed “Paradise Garden.”

News arrived recently that a 57-year-old man in Iowa had been arrested after posting obscene and threatening notes, one including a photograph of a rifle, on the mosque’s Facebook page. Then people began to stop by the office to show Mr. Vali fliers someone had slid under the doors of neighboring houses in the Roxbury neighborhood, citing the Americans for Peace and Tolerance claims and denouncing the mosque for “extremist leadership.”

Mr. Vali, who is close to several local rabbis and ministers and whose only evident fanaticism is for the Kansas City Royals, took to the public address system before Friday Prayer to call on congregants to ignore the bait. “Let’s kill them with kindness,” he said of the mosque’s critics.

He said he and his staff, who are guiding a search for a new imam, were determined not to be distracted from the mosque’s mission — to build a home for a distinctly American Islam, one that models community service, tolerance and compassion.

The Obama administration, worried about the recruiting of young Americans by Islamic State extremists, chose Boston last fall as one of three cities for a Countering Violent Extremism pilot program. The idea is to brainstorm ways to combat recruitment by all militants, including antigovernment groups and white supremacists. But the plan has divided Muslims in Boston and the other two cities, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

Mr. Vali’s mosque is among those that have opted out of the federal program, saying that however well intentioned it is, they believe it will further stigmatize Muslims.

“There is obviously an ideology that exists that’s horrific,” Mr. Vali said. But he said he had not encountered violent militancy in his congregation and believed it would be a mistake “to gear everything around extremism.”

Rather than lecturing young people about terrorism, he said, he wants them learning genuine Islamic principles in a new youth program and in joint projects with churches and synagogues.

Some Muslim activists have decided to go along with the federal effort. Nabeel Khudairi, 53, an optometrist in the Boston suburb of Norwood, is already creating a program to encourage young Muslims to look for genuine heroes and convince them that they “should not go to YouTube University and not listen to Imam Google.”

Participating in the federal project “is getting on a ship before it sails,” Mr. Khudairi said. “Otherwise you’re standing on shore, watching it go.”

Unlike Minneapolis, Boston has not experienced the departure of dozens of young people for militant groups like the Shabab, in Somalia, and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But over the years, a growing list of Muslim extremists and terrorists has emerged from the city.

Most notorious are the Tsarnaev brothers, who committed the marathon bombing. But there are others:

■ Ahmad Abousamra, 33 if he is still alive, grew up in suburban Boston. His father was an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and president of the Islamic Center of New England. He fled to Syria in 2007 after coming under F.B.I. scrutiny and last year joined the Islamic State’s prolific English-language social media operation in Syria, officials believe. In late May, the Iraqi military announced that he had been killed in an airstrike; American officials have not confirmed his death.

Continue reading the main story

■ Tarek Mehanna, another suburbanite in his early 30s, who was charged in 2009 with Mr. Abousamra but did not flee. He was convicted of supporting Al Qaeda and other charges, and is serving a 17-year federal sentence.

■ Rezwan Ferdaus, 29, grew up in the outer suburb of Ashland and earned a physics degree at Northeastern University. He was sentenced in 2012 to 17 years for plotting to fly explosives-laden model planes into the Capitol and the Pentagon and other crimes.

■ Aafia Siddiqui, 43, who earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Brandeis and became an outspoken Muslim activist. She later joined Al Qaeda and in 2008, in custody in Afghanistan, was accused of shooting at American soldiers. She was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years.

■ Abdurahman Alamoudi, 63, a founder of the Islamic Society of Boston, parent organization to Mr. Vali’s mosque, who in 2004 was sentenced to 23 years for joining a bizarre Libyan plot to kill the Saudi crown prince and other charges.

They are among more than a dozen people featured in a rogues’ gallery of former Bostonians featured in advertisements and online writings of Americans for Peace and Tolerance. The group’s founder is Charles Jacobs, 71, a former business consultant who spent years combating contemporary slavery in Africa before focusing on what he sees as a new form of anti-Semitism, fueled by Islamic extremism and hostility to Israel.

The accumulation of Boston malefactors makes for a disturbing list, especially if it is now updated with Usaamah Rahim, the man killed by the police this month, and two other men who were charged Friday with plotting with him and supporting the Islamic State. The Boston Globe was prompted last week to ask in a headline, “Are Boston terrorism cases a trend?”

Mr. Jacobs blames what he believes to be the radical leadership of area mosques, including the Islamic Society of Boston. He points to the fact that devotees of the Muslim Brotherhood, the conservative Islamist organization with branches and allies across the Middle East, were involved in founding the society more than three decades ago. The Muslim American Society, whose Boston branch operates Mr. Vali’s mosque, has been accused of links to the Brotherhood; it insists any ties are historical and have no relevance.

“We think and say and write that the vast majority of Muslims in Boston and America are moderates who would never do anyone any harm,” Mr. Jacobs said. “We think the I.S.B. leadership are hiding behind the general Muslim population.”
Abdul Cader Asmal, left, a retired physician, and Nabeel Khudairi, an optometrist, outside  the Islamic Center of New England in Sharon, Mass. Dr. Asmal said that Islam must find a way to “excommunicate” extremists. Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

His assertions have been rejected by Boston’s leading rabbis and the United States attorney, Carmen Ortiz, who said she found the group’s claims “incredibly racist and unfair.”

A closer look at extremists who have come from Boston finds little evidence that they were radicalized at local mosques. For example, the authorities believe the Chechen brothers responsible for the bombing at the marathon got their ideas largely online; the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was thrown out of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cambridge mosque after a strident outburst.

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

Still, to talk privately with a range of Boston-area Muslims is to hear a more subtle story about the battle over Islamic ideology. One Pakistani-American, who did not want to be identified for fear of becoming a target of anger, said he believed Muslim Brotherhood loyalists in Boston still met secretly and had a pernicious influence on some young people. But he said he did not believe these “hard-liners,” as he called them, supported terrorism.

Talal Eid, 63, a liberal imam who was ousted from his longtime position at a suburban Boston mosque in a factional fight in 2005, said he believed the city’s mosques should operate more democratically. But he said the ideological tensions had no relationship to violence.

“Muslims all over are very good people, working hard, living their lives,” he said. “In Boston, when you talk about terrorists, you can count them on the fingers of one hand. It’s not even one in 10,000.”

But while the numbers may be small, the consequences for American Muslims of each reported plot or act of religiously motivated violence are incalculable.

Some Boston Muslims believe Islam itself faces a grave, perhaps existential danger from the association with terror.

Mr. Webb, the imam who served at Mr. Vali’s mosque from 2010 to 2014, has been denounced on the Internet for his liberal views. A onetime gang member and hip-hop D.J. from a Christian family, he said he himself had espoused deeply conservative views after converting to Islam and changed only gradually.

After the Islamic State beheadings of journalists last year, Mr. Webb delivered a striking sermon. “In America, no religious community has been beaten up or slapped around in the last 13 years like us,” he said.

But he added: “Within our ranks, we have people who openly say they want to kill Americans, they would like to see the destruction of America.” Mr. Webb said Muslims did not like to talk about the few who embrace violence. “But if we continue to ignore these problems, they’ll never be answered,” he said.

The same sense of danger to Islam was expressed by an older member of the Boston community, Abdul Cader Asmal, 76, a retired physician and longtime leader in area mosques. He recalled watching Tarek Mehanna and Ahmad Abousamra grow up, and expressed puzzlement that one had ended up in prison and the other with ISIS.

“This is painful for us,” Dr. Asmal said. Islam, he said, must find a way to “excommunicate” extremists.

“If it doesn’t take a drastic stance against terrorism,” Dr. Asmal added, “its credibility as a force for good will be lost.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Number of Retractions Growing on: June 18, 2015, 10:17:51 AM
Science, Now Under Scrutiny Itself

­Dr. Ivan Oransky edits the Retraction Watch blog with Adam Marcus. Credit Christian Hansen for The New York Times

The crimes and misdemeanors of science used to be handled mostly in-house, with a private word at the faculty club, barbed questions at a conference, maybe a quiet dismissal. On the rare occasion when a journal publicly retracted a study, it typically did so in a cryptic footnote. Few were the wiser; many retracted studies have been cited as legitimate evidence by others years after the fact.

But that gentlemen’s world has all but evaporated, as a remarkable series of events last month demonstrated. In mid-May, after two graduate students raised questions about a widely reported study on how political canvassing affects opinions of same-sex marriage, editors at the journal Science, where the study was published, began to investigate. What followed was a frenzy of second-guessing, accusations and commentary from all corners of the Internet: “Retraction” as serial drama, rather than footnote. Science officially pulled the paper, by Michael LaCour of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Donald Green of Columbia, on May 28, because of concerns about Mr. LaCour’s data.

“Until recently it was unusual for us to report on studies that were not yet retracted,” said Dr. Ivan Oransky, an editor of the blog Retraction Watch, the first news media outlet to report that the study had been challenged. But new technology and a push for transparency from younger scientists have changed that, he said. “We have more tips than we can handle.”

The case has played out against an increase in retractions that has alarmed many journal editors and authors. Scientists in fields as diverse as neurobiology, anesthesia and economics are debating how to reduce misconduct, without creating a police-state mentality that undermines creativity and collaboration.

“It’s an extraordinary time,” said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and a founder of the Center for Open Science, which provides a free service through which labs can share data and protocols. “We are now seeing a number of efforts to push for data repositories to facilitate direct replications of findings.”

But that push is not universally welcomed. Some senior scientists have argued that replication often wastes resources. “Isn’t reproducibility the bedrock of science? Yes, up to a point,” the cancer biologist Mina Bissell wrote in a widely circulated blog post. “But it is sometimes much easier not to replicate than to replicate studies,” especially when the group trying to replicate does not have the specialized knowledge or skill to do so.

The experience of Retraction Watch provides a rough guide to where this debate is going and why. Dr. Oransky, who has a medical degree from New York University, and Adam Marcus, both science journalists, discovered a mutual interest in retractions about five years ago and founded the blog as a side project. They had, and still have, day jobs: Mr. Marcus, 46, is the managing editor of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, and Dr. Oransky, 42, is the editorial director of MedPage Today (he will take a position as distinguished writer in residence at N.Y.U. later this year).

In its first year, the blog broke a couple of retraction stories that hit the mainstream news media — including a case involving data faked by an anesthesiologist who later served time for health care fraud. The site now has about 150,000 unique visitors a month, about half from outside the United States.

Dr. Oransky and Mr. Marcus are partisans who editorialize sharply against poor oversight and vague retraction notices. But their focus on evidence over accusations distinguishes them from watchdog forerunners who sometimes came off as ad hominem cranks. Last year, their site won a $400,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to build out their database, and they plan to work with Dr. Nosek to manage the data side.

Their data already tell a story.

The blog has charted a 20 to 25 percent increase in retractions across some 10,000 medical and science journals in the past five years: 500 to 600 a year today from 400 in 2010. (The number in 2001 was 40, according to previous research.) The primary causes of this surge are far from clear. The number of papers published is higher than ever, and journals have proliferated, Dr. Oransky and other experts said. New tools for detecting misconduct, like plagiarism-sifting software, are widely available, so there’s reason to suspect that the surge is a simple product of better detection and larger volume.
The increasing challenges to the veracity of scientists’ work gained widespread attention recently when a study by Michael LaCour on the effect of political canvassing on opinions of same-sex marriage was questioned and ultimately retracted.

Still, the pressure to publish attention-grabbing findings is stronger than ever, these experts said — and so is the ability to “borrow” and digitally massage data. Retraction Watch’s records suggest that about a third of retractions are because of errors, like tainted samples or mistakes in statistics, and about two-thirds are because of misconduct or suspicions of misconduct.

The most common reason for retraction because of misconduct is image manipulation, usually of figures or diagrams, a form of deliberate data massaging or, in some cases, straight plagiarism. In their dissection of the LaCour-Green paper, the two graduate students — David Broockman, now an assistant professor at Stanford, and Joshua Kalla, at California-Berkeley — found that a central figure in Mr. LaCour’s analysis looked nearly identical to one from another study. This and other concerns led Dr. Green, who had not seen any original data, to request a retraction. (Mr. LaCour has denied borrowing anything.)

Data massaging can take many forms. It can mean simply excluding “outliers” — unusually high or low data points — from an analysis to generate findings that more strongly support the hypothesis. It also includes moving the goal posts: that is, mining the data for results first, and then writing the paper as if the experiment had been an attempt to find just those effects. “You have exploratory findings, and you’re pitching them as ‘I knew this all along,’ as confirmatory,” Dr. Nosek said.

The second leading cause is plagiarizing text, followed by republishing — presenting the same results in two or more journals.

The fourth category is faked data. No one knows the rate of fraud with any certainty. In a 2011 survey of more than 2,000 psychologists, about 1 percent admitted to falsifying data. Other studies have estimated a rate of about 2 percent. Yet one offender can do a lot of damage. The Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel published dozens of studies in major journals for nearly a decade based on faked data, investigators at the universities where he had worked concluded in 2011. Suspicions were first raised by two of his graduate students.

“If I’m a scientist and I fabricate data and put that online, others are going to assume this is accurate data,” said John Budd, a professor at the University of Missouri and an author of one of the first exhaustive analyses of retractions, in 1999. “There’s no way to know” without inside information.

Here, too, Retraction Watch provides a possible solution. Many of the egregious cases that it posts come from tips. The tipsters are a growing cadre of scientists, specialized journalists and other experts who share the blog’s mission — and are usually not insiders working directly with a suspected offender. One of the blog’s most effective allies has been Dr. Steven Shafer, the current editor of the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia who is now at Stanford, whose aggressiveness in re-examining published papers has led to scores of retractions. The field of anesthesia is a leader in retractions, largely because of Dr. Shafer’s efforts, Mr. Marcus and Dr. Oransky said. (Psychology is another leader, largely because of Dr. Stapel.)

Other cases emerge from issues raised at post-publication sites, where scientists dig into papers, sometimes anonymously. Dr. Broockman, one of the two who challenged the LaCour-Green paper, had first made public some of his suspicions anonymously on a message board called Mr. Marcus said Retraction Watch closely followed a similar site, “When it first popped up, a lot of people assumed it would be an ax-grinding place,” he said. “But while some contributors have overstepped, I think it has had a positive impact on the literature.”

What these various tipsters, anonymous post-reviewers and whistle-blowers have in common is a nose for data that looks too good to be true, he said. Sites like Retraction Watch and PubPeer give them a place to discuss their concerns and flag fishy-looking data.

These, along with data repositories like Dr. Nosek’s, may render moot the debate over how to exhaustively replicate findings. That burden is likely to be eased by the community of bad-science bloodhounds who have more and more material to work with when they pick up a foul scent.

“At this point, we see ourselves as part of an ecosystem that is advocating for increased transparency,” Dr. Oransky said. “And that ecosystem is growing.”

121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: June 18, 2015, 10:14:12 AM
The ugly tone to his comments about Mexico and Mexicans in his announcement speech will not be forgotten.  If Trump does well, the Reps can kill the Latino vote goodbye forever.
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Uh oh , , , on: June 18, 2015, 12:08:23 AM
The Other Terror Threat
NY Times

THIS month, the headlines were about a Muslim man in Boston who was accused of threatening police officers with a knife. Last month, two Muslims attacked an anti-Islamic conference in Garland, Tex. The month before, a Muslim man was charged with plotting to drive a truck bomb onto a military installation in Kansas. If you keep up with the news, you know that a small but steady stream of American Muslims, radicalized by overseas extremists, are engaging in violence here in the United States.

But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.

In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s efforts to radicalize American Muslims, which began just after the survey ended, may have increased threat perceptions somewhat, but not by much, as we found in follow-up interviews over the past year with counterterrorism specialists at 19 law enforcement agencies. These officers, selected from urban and rural areas around the country, said that radicalization from the Middle East was a concern, but not as dangerous as radicalization among right-wing extremists.

An officer from a large metropolitan area said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism. One officer explained that he ranked the right-wing threat higher because “it is an emerging threat that we don’t have as good of a grip on, even with our intelligence unit, as we do with the Al Shabab/Al Qaeda issue, which we have been dealing with for some time.” An officer on the West Coast explained that the “sovereign citizen” anti-government threat has “really taken off,” whereas terrorism by American Muslim is something “we just haven’t experienced yet.”

Last year, for example, a man who identified with the sovereign citizen movement — which claims not to recognize the authority of federal or local government — attacked a courthouse in Forsyth County, Ga., firing an assault rifle at police officers and trying to cover his approach with tear gas and smoke grenades. The suspect was killed by the police, who returned fire. In Nevada, anti-government militants reportedly walked up to and shot two police officers at a restaurant, then placed a “Don’t tread on me” flag on their bodies. An anti-government extremist in Pennsylvania was arrested on suspicion of shooting two state troopers, killing one of them, before leading authorities on a 48-day manhunt. A right-wing militant in Texas declared a “revolution” and was arrested on suspicion of attempting to rob an armored car in order to buy weapons and explosives and attack law enforcement. These individuals on the fringes of right-wing politics increasingly worry law enforcement officials.

Law enforcement agencies around the country are training their officers to recognize signs of anti-government extremism and to exercise caution during routine traffic stops, criminal investigations and other interactions with potential extremists. “The threat is real,” says the handout from one training program sponsored by the Department of Justice. Since 2000, the handout notes, 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a “fear that government will confiscate firearms” and a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”

Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.

In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

Other data sets, using different definitions of political violence, tell comparable stories. The Global Terrorism Database maintained by the Start Center at the University of Maryland includes 65 attacks in the United States associated with right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11. The International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.

Meanwhile, terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America. There have been more than 215,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. For every person killed by Muslim extremists, there have been 4,300 homicides from other threats.

Public debates on terrorism focus intensely on Muslims. But this focus does not square with the low number of plots in the United States by Muslims, and it does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion. As state and local police agencies remind us, right-wing, anti-government extremism is the leading source of ideological violence in America.
Correction: June 17, 2015

An earlier version of this article omitted the given name of a professor at West Point who studies counterterrorism. He is Arie Perliger.
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 17, 2015, 11:32:06 PM
45-50 years i.e. when I was a young man.
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: June 17, 2015, 10:43:09 PM
Apparently he let some woman touch his hair today to verify it was not a toupe (sp?)
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hamilton to be knocked off the $10 bill for a woman yet to be named. on: June 17, 2015, 10:41:51 PM
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 17, 2015, 10:33:44 PM
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Donald Trump on: June 17, 2015, 10:25:55 PM
on the one hand:

on the other hand, apparently he is against "assault weapons" and wants longer waiting period.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump on: June 17, 2015, 10:15:12 PM
I know there will be some humorous banter about my opening this thread, especially after what I said yesterday, but I must say I was rather impressed with DT on the Sean Hannity show this evening.

The whole hour was dedicated to the interview with him.


ANSWER:  A big part of what makes them effective is they have a lot of money, in great part because of the oil they seized.  Solution?  Bomb the oil fields.   This cuts off their money, and after ISIS falls the oil capabilities can be rebuilt.

My initial reaction to this is a) that is a good insight about the money b) the solution is simple and politically and militarily rather straightforward c) excellent prospects for attitude adjustment around the region and the world.
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / OMG , , , on: June 17, 2015, 10:08:54 PM
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry ready to lift sanctions , , , on: June 17, 2015, 07:17:39 PM

 cry cry angry
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: June 17, 2015, 04:39:20 PM
132  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Aleander: Fathers and Freedom on: June 17, 2015, 04:34:25 PM

Fathers and Freedom: Irrevocably Linked
The Fatherless Factor
By Mark Alexander • June 17, 2015     
“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families. ... In vain are schools, academies, and universities instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years.” --John Adams (1778)

Annually, on the third Sunday in June, millions of Americans of all ages are reminded that they grew up in homes without fathers. Many also recognize that this absence has had a significant influence on every day of their lives.

For much of history, it was not uncommon for children to have one parent — having lost the other to disease, war or occupations that took them far away from the home. Unfortunately, the United States today ranks high among nations with children growing up in single-parent homes. In the vast majority of these cases, the single parent is the mother, and the absent parent is the biological father who elected to abandon them.

This elective rejection by fathers, the result of birth to absentee "baby daddies" or divorce, is epidemic. And the consequence of this epidemic for families, and the future of Liberty, is dire.

The vital role of fathers has been extolled throughout history and in virtually every religion and culture. In 295 B.C., Mencius wrote, "The root of the kingdom is in the state. The root of the state is in the family. The root of the family is in the person of its head."

When I think of the word "father," tit first invokes my relationship with the person who irrevocably shaped my own life. Dad was always there for my siblings and me, and he was always a devoted husband to my mom. He was a real man, in every sense of the word, a type "A" fighter pilot — and of the most aggressive breed, a naval aviator. He was a competitive entrepreneur in business and a fierce competitor in sports.

Since he passed along that same "A" gene, we butted heads for most of my formative years. When recalling my early trials with my father, I'm reminded of a great quote attributed to that sagacious humorist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain): "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Like Twain, it took me a few years to figure out that my old man was a good father and a good mentor to boot. Today, I'm so grateful for the steadfast example he set and the love we share for each other.

"Father" also evokes thoughts about my relationship with our children, and that is precious beyond words — a greater gift I could not imagine. But having failed my own children in some ways, I hope in due time by grace that they will grant their old man forgiveness for those errors.

"Father" also invokes gratitude for all that is provided by our heavenly Father, as it does the heritage bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers.

These four contexts for "father" — God the Father, my own earthly father, my role as father to my children, and the legacy of our forefathers — combine to create a rich and abiding sense of what fatherhood really means, how it should look and feel in heart and practice.

But for tens of millions of American children growing up in fatherless homes, the consequences of that void are enormous. How enormous?
Considering the wide range of data associated with the fatherless factor, Twain also offered this erudite insight: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

So when evaluating data from the last two decades associated with the consequences of fatherless homes, I have been careful to rely on only the most reputable professional journals, national research organizations and polling firms. 
Here is accurate data on the consequences for American children without fathers in their homes: About 43% of children live without a father — more than 20 million children — and millions more have fathers who may be physically present but emotionally absent. Forty-four percent of children living in poverty are fatherless. Eighty-five percent have behavior problems, often "diagnosed" as ADHD (or, as I refer to it, PDHD — "Parental Deficit in the Home Disorder"). Children from fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of all homeless and runaways, 70% of youths in state-operated institutions, 71% of high school dropouts, 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers and 85% of all youths in prison. Of course, women without husbands and children without fathers are at much greater risk of being victimized.

Most notably, however, 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father, which is to say they are perpetuating the misery. And tragically, 72% of black children are born out of wedlock.

Arguably, the vast majority of social problems confronting our nation today originate in homes without fathers, which would include those without functioning or effective fathers.

While most fatherless homes are the result of men putting their own interests ahead of their marriage and family, an increasing number of fatherless homes are the result of mothers who separate from fathers because they are unable to establish a healthy marriage bond. In many such cases, the broken trust between a daughter and her father is directly related to the inability of that daughter to, later in life, form a trusting bond necessary for a healthy marriage with her husband.

Notably, there are young people who were raised by a single parent, or in critically dysfunctional or impoverished homes, but who overcame those enormous obstacles. Either they were blessed with a parent who, against almost insurmountable odds, instilled their children with the values and virtues of good citizenship or, somewhere along the way, those children were lifted out of their misery by the grace of God — often in the form of a significant mentor who modeled individual responsibility and character.
As a result, they have been empowered to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices and behavior.

However, the vast majority of those from homes without fathers externalize responsibility for problems and solutions, holding others to blame for their ills, and bestowing upon the state the duty of providing basic needs and, ultimately, of arbitrating proper conduct.

The failure of fatherhood is more than just a social problem; it is a menacing national security threat. The collective social pathology of the fatherless has dire consequences for the future of Liberty, free enterprise and the survival of our Republic.

One may rightly conclude that most "liberalism" is rooted in pathology that runs much deeper than topical ideological indoctrination. Indeed, psychopathology dictates and frames worldview, and worldview is manifested in such expressions as political affiliation.

This pathology manifests in mental rigidity, fear, anger, aggression and insecurity. These are the result of low self-esteem and arrested emotional development associated, predominantly, with fatherless households or critically dysfunctional families in which children were not adequately affirmed. Such individuals harbor contempt for those who are self-sufficient for much the same reason. They believe that conforming to a code of non-conformity is a sign of individualism, when it is nothing more than an extreme form of conformism for those who are truly insecure. Though they feign concern for the less fortunate and the primacy of individual liberty, they are ardent statists.
They fear loss because most have suffered significant loss. They often come from socially or economically deprived single-parent homes, though inheritance-welfare trust-babies (see Gore, Kerry, the Kennedys, et al.) manifest similar insecurities about helplessness without external sustenance (their trust funds). They reject individual and social responsibility because such principles were not modeled for them as children — and the generational implications for Liberty are ominous.

Some of the fatherless (or those with ineffectual fathers) seek to compensate for the resulting insecurities through overachievement and are case studies of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Mark Twain even had an applicable insight on the subject of political narcissists: "A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."

Nowhere is that pathology more evident than when fatherless children, in their relentless pursuit of approval never provided by their own fathers, ascend to positions of power. The pages of 20th century history are rife with the tragic results of those who were raised with ineffectual or no fathers. The short list includes Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Castro, Pol Pot, Saddam and bin Laden.

Among those who have ascended from broken homes to positions of political influence in our own nation, there is a distinctive pathology associated with their insatiable quest for approval and power and their resulting advocacy for a platform of statism upon which to build their throne.

The most notable recent examples are Bill Clinton, Al Gore and, of course, Barack Obama, who is a textbook case study of the threat posed to Liberty by such individuals in positions of power. The political, social, cultural and economic damage that these men have done in their warped search for power is considerable.

It's no coincidence that Obama's most loyal constituencies are the product of the social, cultural and economic blight he leverages on urban poverty plantations.

In his first campaign for president, Obama proclaimed, "What Washington needs is adult supervision." Unfortunately, young Barack never received any such supervision after having been abandoned by his own father. He is, consequently, in no position to provide it to anyone else, much less an entire nation. To be sure, all good-hearted Americans should possess a measure of compassion for Obama, whose bizarre formative years were marked by complete familial disintegration — none of which he is responsible for or deserved.

I would suggest that the most revealing and honest remark Obama has uttered since his election was this unscripted observation: "I wish I had a father who was around."
In his 1834 "Commentaries on the Conflict," Justice Joseph Story wrote, “Marriage is in its origin a contract of natural law. It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic.” Indeed, marriage and family are a critical pillar of Liberty.

So, what are Obama and his Democrat Party leaders doing to restore marriages and families across our nation?

Nothing. And in fact they are overtly hostile toward these vital foundational institutions.

Democrats are not only responsible for the so-called "Great Society" policies that have been instrumental in destroying families; they are advancing that destruction in every way possible.
Their most successful assault on marriage and family since Obama took office has been the "progressive" homosexual agenda.

Though only 3.4% of Americans self-identify as "gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered," the pernicious advancement of their agenda is very well funded, coordinated and executed. Consequently, almost half of adult Americans believe that 20-25% of Americans are LBGT. Part of the misconception might be that the highest percentage of LBGT are among the high-profile entertainment and Beltway media elite.

Notably, it is women, youth and those with lower education who buy into the big percentage myth, which is why Democrats depend on their emotive voter strategy for election and re-election.

Having declared June as "LGBT Pride Month," Obama, who tweeted accolades about how courageous "Caitlyn" Jenner is, announced the first appointment of a transgendered woman to a senior government post and invited Army Gen. Randy Taylor to introduce his "husband Lucas" at a "Pentagon Gay Pride" event.

In addition to the Democrats' state-by-state assault on marriage, so-called "gay advocacy" organizations are targeting institutions that have strong family traditions, such as the church, our military service branches and even the Boy Scouts of America.

Now, for the record, I'm a borderline Libertarian when it comes to personal Liberty, and as such I believe it's up to individuals to determine with whom they want to be "intimate." But Obama's "gay" agenda has nothing to do with individual freedom and everything to do with undermining Liberty and empowering the state.
So where to go from here?

The fate of the fatherless is, at best, a broken heart. At worst, it is the root cause of the social entropy we observe in contemporary American culture.

On this Father's Day Centennial, we should pay tribute to the irreplaceable institutions of marriage and fatherhood — and the importance of a father's love, discipline, support and protection for his children. Every day, those of us who are fathers should encourage other fathers to be accountable for their marriages and their children.
There is much that can be done for the fatherless — mentoring, coaching little-league sports, tutoring and volunteering to work with high-risk kids through an inner-city ministry, to name just a few. We, as American Patriots, must bridge the gap for these kids.

With this in mind, I encourage you to support these good marriage and family advocacy organizations:

Tony Dungy, the former professional football player who coached the Indianapolis Colts to their 2007 Super Bowl victory, has devoted much of his post-football years to coaching fathers. His All Pro Dad fatherhood mentoring organization produces an outstanding resource, a daily email for dads called the "Play of the Day." If you're a father of young children, I highly recommend you click here for this great resource and spread the word to other fathers. It's a quick read, and I guarantee fathers will find something in every edition that will improve their relationships with their children and their wives.

Also visit First Things First, an outstanding organization under the leadership of my friend Julie Baumgardner. There are other fine national fathering resources at the National Center for Fathering and the National Fatherhood Initiative, Focus on the Family and James Dobson's great resources, American Family Association, the Family Research Council, Art of Manliness, and my colleague Jim Lee's Living Free Ministries.
Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gowdy throws Issa out of closed door hearing on: June 16, 2015, 06:36:24 PM
Wonder what the back story is , , ,
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I want to tel you who is your neighbor on: June 16, 2015, 06:30:39 PM
Obama Wants to Pick the Clintons’ Neighbors
The administration is forcing low-income housing into wealthy enclaves, whether or not anyone wants it.

Jason L. Riley
June 16, 2015 6:44 p.m. ET

Bill and Hillary Clinton are popular with black voters, but that doesn’t mean the couple wants to live around them. And vice versa. This reality troubles President Obama, though his remedy is what’s really troubling.

When the Clintons went house-hunting in 1999, neighborhood diversity wasn’t much of a priority. The family settled on a five-bedroom Colonial in Chappaqua, N.Y., a lush suburb north of New York City where the population is more than 90% white, less than 1% black and multimillion-dollar homes abound. No one has produced evidence of racial discrimination against buyers who can afford homes in Chappaqua and other wealthy enclaves of Westchester County, where the town is located. But monochrome residential housing patterns upset the sensibilities of officials in Mr. Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For the past six years, HUD has been hounding Westchester about building more low-income housing in places like Chappaqua. Federal officials have vowed to “hold people’s feet to the fire” and make an example of the county. “We’re clearly messaging other jurisdictions across the country that there has been a significant change in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and we’re going to ask them to pursue similar goals as well,” said a deputy secretary at HUD in 2009.
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Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Jason Riley on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s plan to dictate where minorities live. Photo credit: Getty Images.

The comment followed the announcement of a settlement in a false-claims suit brought against the county by housing activists who accused Westchester of applying for a HUD grant without doing enough minority outreach to satisfy the federal agency’s “fair housing” goals. Westchester admitted no wrongdoing in the case, but the county executive at the time, a Democrat, cut a deal with HUD that required the county to build 750 subsidized-housing units over the next seven years and “affirmatively market affordable housing within the county and in geographic areas with significant non-white populations outside, but not contiguous with or within close proximity to, the county.” Got that?

In effect, the federal government is forcing wealthy Westchester municipalities to import low-income minorities. By extension, HUD is also compelling low-income minorities to live in overwhelmingly white communities, even though research has shown for decades that large majorities of blacks have no desire to live in all-white or even mostly white neighborhoods and strongly prefer to live where at least half of the other residents are black.

To his credit, Westchester’s current county executive, Republican Rob Astorino, has been pushing back against the terms of the settlement, which is still being litigated. The outcome is likely to have national ramifications. What is at stake is the loss of locally controlled residential zoning, and more such federal relocation edicts are almost certainly on the way.

Last week HUD announced that it was moving forward with new regulations that essentially will force about 1,250 communities nationwide to construct cheap housing units in wealthy, predominantly white neighborhoods and then actively recruit poor minorities to move in. Local governments that don’t play ball will jeopardize federal grant money. What happened in Westchester is a taste of what may be coming to upscale parts of Houston, Dallas, Marin County, Calif., and other places that aren’t racially and economically diverse enough for this White House.

The Obama administration may find color-adjusted communities aesthetically pleasing, but people don’t sort themselves by neighborhood randomly, and government invites trouble with efforts to move poor people—of any color—into areas where they otherwise can’t afford to live. Twenty years ago, HUD nixed a national program that gave public-housing residents in places like Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles vouchers that enabled them to move into better neighborhoods that were predominantly white.

“The theory was elegant, the outcome anything but,” reported the New York Times. “The idea was that by scattering one or two poor families in large middle-income areas, they would disappear like salt crystals in a glass of water, quietly integrating themselves into communities where they would find more jobs, better schools and safer streets.” Instead, the effort “unleashed a firestorm of protest” over race and class “before any of these families were moved,” said the paper. Financing for the year-old program was canceled.

Seemingly incapable of learning from its blunders, HUD continues to try to engineer residential integration—even though public attitudes have evolved and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made housing discrimination illegal and Americans have shown themselves happy to decide where they’d like to live.

Since 1970, segregation has fallen significantly in every decade. In a 2012 paper for the Manhattan Institute, economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard and Jacob Vigdor of Duke wrote that “all-white neighborhoods are effectively extinct” and that the dominant trend in black neighborhoods is population loss. “Particularly in the formerly hyper-segregated cities of the Northeast and Midwest, ghetto neighborhoods have witnessed profound population declines, as former residents decamp for the suburbs or for the rapidly growing cities of the Sun Belt—where segregation is generally very low.”

The Obama administration is acting less out of a need to address a problem and more out of a desire to expand the role of the federal government in yet another area of our lives.

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Go Kurds go! on: June 16, 2015, 06:23:59 PM

Ayla Albayrak And
Nour Malas
Updated June 16, 2015 4:26 p.m. ET

AKCAKALE, Turkey—A quick and successful offensive by Kurdish fighters and allied rebels in a northern Syrian town has boosted a U.S.-backed effort to choke off Islamic State’s supply routes.

Emboldened by this week’s recapture of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border, Syrian Kurdish fighters and allied rebels said their next target is Raqqa, Islamic State’s main stronghold about 50 miles south of Tal Abyad. On Monday, these fighters said they had already begun to advance southward toward Raqqa, reaching the town of Ain Issa, only about 30 miles away.

“Now that we have just completed clearing Tal Abyad and the surrounding villages, we will move to liberate Raqqa in the near future. It’s our mission,” said Shervan Darweesh, a spokesman for rebel groups allied with the Syrian Kurdish militia known as YPG.

The YPG’s political affiliate, the Democratic Union Party or PYD, has ruled the three Kurdish-majority enclaves along the Turkish border in northern Syria since regime forces withdrew from the area in 2012.

The latest advance came amid stepped-up U.S. airstrikes in the region around Raqqa, Kurdish and Syrian fighters said. The U.S. carried out 23 airstrikes near Raqqa over the past two weeks, according to the U.S. military’s Central Command. That was more than double the number in the same area in all of May.

Tal Abyad’s capture is an important milestone for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State from the air in northern Syria and its allies on the ground. It is part of efforts to cut off the group’s supply lines not just to the city of Raqqa but into neighboring Iraq, where the coalition has struggled to stem recent gains by Islamic State.

The advance recalled a similar battle six months ago in the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, where U.S. airstrikes helped YPG and a smaller alliance of Syrian rebels seize the town. However, it was a much longer and bloodier fight that lasted about four months.

On Tuesday, fighters were clearing mines and booby-traps in the Tal Abyad area, Mr. Darweesh said.

Abdulrahman al-Salih, a spokesman for one of the non-Kurdish Syrian rebel groups in the alliance, the Raqqa Revolutionaries, said Islamic State, also known as ISIS, retreated from Tal Abyad on Monday after very little fighting.

He said the YPG-rebel coalition surrounded the town starting Sunday, while airstrikes “prevented ISIS from sending any resupply convoys from Raqqa.”

The offensive cut an important supply line for Islamic State across the porous Turkish border nearby.

Mr. Salih said that most Islamic State fighters withdrew south to Raqqa, or handed themselves over to Turkish forces policing the border. Turkish officials also said at least two Islamic State members had been detained after handing themselves over.

The Islamic State rout followed recent gains by the group that suggested efforts to contain the extremist group were failing. Last month, the militants captured Palmyra, the central Syrian town with a trove of ancient ruins, and Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province.

Thousands of people fled in recent days as they anticipated a violent offensive, swarming Turkey’s border and cutting holes through a fence to get through when officials briefly closed the crossing. More than 23,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey since early June, mostly fleeing the Tal Abyad offensive, Turkish and United Nations officials said.

—Mohammad Nour Alakraa and Dana Ballout in Beirut contributed to this article.

Write to Ayla Albayrak at and Dana Ballout at
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136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dilma forgives US on: June 16, 2015, 06:12:03 PM
SÃO PAULO — When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff emerged from a meeting with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama City in April, she was in surprisingly good spirits. She looked healthier and more energetic than she had in months as she stepped up to the microphone for a press conference. She was all smiles as she described an upcoming trip to Washington, planned for June 30.

Rousseff, who was re-elected in October with only 51.6 percent of the vote, faces a spiraling corruption scandal at home and the lowest approval rating since her party took power in 2003. And her government has been clashing with Washington off-and-on for two years. So her cheery demeanor after meeting Obama was not what the room full of journalists was expecting when she stepped out for the press conference.

“Does this planned visit mean that the NSA spying episode is entirely overcome?” Brazilian journalist Patricia Campos Mello asked Rousseff.

“It means we recognize the actions taken by the U.S. … that friendly countries won’t be spied on,” Rousseff said. “And we have a declaration from President Obama. When he wants to know something, he’ll call me.”

To see Rousseff place this kind of trust in the United States would have been unthinkable less than two years ago. In September 2013, after Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Rousseff and Brazil’s national oil company, Petrobras, the Brazilian president emerged as one of the foremost critics of U.S. spying programs. She canceled a planned state visit to the White House and her government considered introducing laws that would have forced companies like Google and Facebook to store their data within Brazil, imposing considerable cost in order to subject them to local privacy laws.

But now, it seems that Rousseff has backed down on confronting the United States over its spying and surveillance. Weakened at home politically and economically, she can no longer afford a rift with a powerful and important ally like the United States, experts and analysts say.

“The government is basically in emergency mode,” said Igor Fuser, a professor of international relations at the ABC Federal University in São Paulo. “So in the international arena, the position is maximum caution; a posture of reconciliation with traditional allies, and avoidance at all costs of anything that could cause any friction.”

While standing up to the United States can play well with Rousseff’s base, her current challenges come from the right, which has long accused her of being irresponsibly leftist in foreign policy, and has gone as far as calling for her impeachment this year. Shoring up relations with Washington, and meeting with Obama as an equal, can provide a much-needed boost to her legitimacy.

For a while, it looked like a resurgent, left-leaning Brazil, governed by a woman who had been tortured by a U.S.-backed military dictatorship, would be matched only by Germany’s post-DDR Angela Merkel in leading the charge among friends of the United States against America’s global intelligence programs.

After Rousseff canceled her planned 2013 meeting with Obama, she took her case to the United Nations. During that September’s General Assembly, she delivered a lengthy scolding against a “global electronic spying network” based in the United States. “Meddling this way in the lives of other countries violates international law and is an affront to the principles that should govern relations among nations, especially allies…. [T]he security of one country’s citizens can never be guaranteed by violating the fundamental human and civic rights of citizens in other countries,” she said from the podium in Turtle Bay. “We have informed the U.S. government of our protest, demanding explanations, apology, and guarantees that these actions will not be repeated.”

She went on to propose a “multilateral civil rights framework” governing the global Internet, aimed at establishing privacy standards and human rights online around the world. In April 2014, Brazil hosted the Net Mundial Conference, a meeting of government officials, experts, and academics to discuss the future of Internet governance. By year’s end, Brazil and Germany had presented and passed at the U.N. a resolution calling for all countries to guarantee privacy online, saying “that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.”

Rousseff went on the offensive domestically, too. In October 2013, her allies in the legislature introduced amendments to a planned “Internet bill of rights” in response to the scandal. The Marco Civil da Internet had already sought to guarantee privacy and net neutrality in Brazil, but following revelations from Snowden that major Internet companies were sharing data with the NSA, Brazilian legislators introduced provisions that would force companies such as Google and Facebook to store their data on Brazilian soil, where the government could apply rigorous privacy standards — and keep the NSA’s prying eyes out. The final version, passed in February 2014, modified this provision due to fears that it would lead to high costs for Brazilian Internet users and put a financial strain on for companies doing business in Brazil — especially smaller firms. Instead, the Brazilian Congress insisted that foreign companies be subject to local judicial proceedings if they were to be proved to be violating privacy statues, even if the data is stored abroad.

Through 2014 and early 2015, Brazil and the United States remained publicly at odds over spying and privacy. Rousseff never received the public apology from the United States that she demanded in front of the U.N. — or even the public guarantee that the behavior would not be repeated.

So what explains Dilma’s apparent about face? A well-placed official in the Brazilian government, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Rousseff-Obama rapprochement involved concessions from Washington.

“The American government’s posture did change. The [U.S.] president made it clear in his last conversation with Rousseff in Panama that if he wanted to know something about Brazil or the president, he will call her and not use other means,” he said. “And we have to trust in the word of the head of state.”

“She communicated that it was central that she couldn’t [again] be surprised by revelations that the U.S. is spying Brazil,” he added, noting that Obama may not have been able to apologize or make public promises due to internal political concerns.

The Obama administration has been pushing a modest intelligence reform agenda in Washington. Earlier this month, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which reversed some of the more invasive provisions of the 2001 Patriot Act. But experts on U.S.-Latin America relations note that the White House has not publicly mentioned anything about the NSA changing the way it deals with citizens of foreign countries. Nevertheless, many believe that the reconciliation with Brazil could provide an opportunity to work more productively with the region’s largest power.

“The U.S. is hopefully coming to the recognition that it has a really difficult time carrying out an agenda in Latin America without being able to cooperate with Brazil,” said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank.

Washington has an ambitious agenda in Latin America. The Obama administration is working toward repairing relations with Cuba, and also sees the need for better trade relations with Brazil. The two countries have a “paltry trade relationship” that “doesn’t make sense,” outside of their inability to cooperate, said Hakim.

The month before the Panama City summit, the United States classified Venezuela as a “national security threat” to the United States, a move that allows the United States to impose sanctions on Caracas. That was received badly by Latin American leaders.

“In the case of the flap over the Venezuelan sanctions, if the U.S. government had sat down with the Brazilians, the Brazilians would have said, ‘Don’t do it.’ Or they would have said, ‘Don’t do it before the summit, at least. You’re ruining an opportunity to highlight your reconciliation with Cuba,’” Hakim said.

But it’s not just Washington’s regional agenda that has helped lay the groundwork for the mending of relations. Rousseff might not be able to afford to strike the defiant tone of 2013, when problems in her previously very popular government had just begun to appear. At home and abroad, her government has been badly weakened by an economic downturn and a huge corruption scandal, and she is far more eager these days to build alliances and create positive headlines than to try to change the global intelligence system.

Since her narrow re-election, in which she played up her left-wing credentials, Rousseff’s government has had to embark on an unpopular austerity program to shore up public finances. At the same time, she has faced protest movements calling for her impeachment over the massive corruption scandal at Petrobras.

“Rousseff needs the United States, especially in the context of a slowing Brazilian economy,” said João Augusto de Castro Neves, an analyst for the Eurasia group, noting that the country is in need of investment for infrastructure and oil. No investment partnerships or trade deals have been announced, but could come alongside Rousseff’s visit to Washington at the end of the month.

In the first decade of the 21st century, Brazil and others in Latin America saw their economies surge and found themselves empowered to take on Washington politically. Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, pushed a “counter-hegemonic” strategy alongside the other emerging powers around the world and the left-leaning governments of Latin America. But most have been hit by economic or political problems as the Chinese economy slowed, ending the global commodity boom.

“It’s not a radical break. But the trend is to go in a more conservative direction rather than a leftist or anti-systemic direction,” Fuser said.
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck: It is about Islam on: June 16, 2015, 04:59:50 PM
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Greece is Detroit, not Lehman on: June 16, 2015, 04:53:33 PM
Greece is Detroit, Not Lehman To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 6/16/2015

Greece is the land of misinformation. We constantly hear that a Greek default will cause a market panic and be as damaging to financial markets as the default of Lehman Brothers back in 2008. While there is no possible way to know for sure, we believe that a Greek default will look and feel more like the Detroit default. In other words, it may make a great deal of noise, but the European economy will not collapse. In fact, we believe any sell-off in the equity markets is a buying opportunity.
We believe this for five reasons:

First, as long as you weren’t in hibernation this past winter, or even during the past 2000 years, Greek financial problems are not new. Economic authors, Reinhardt and Rogoff calculated that since it became independent in 1829, Greece was in default or rescheduling its debt 51% of the time through 2006. This most recent crisis started in 2009, so financial markets have had plenty of time to prepare. In contrast, the Lehman collapse was totally unexpected, mostly due to people believing government would handle it like Bear Stearns.

Second, and some may not know this, Greek GDP (approximately $240 billion in 2013) is roughly equal to the Detroit Metro Area’s GDP ($224 billion in 2013). At the same time, European Union GDP is roughly equal to US GDP. In other words, the impact on the EU and on the world will be minimal. Yes, Greece has more debt than Detroit, but markets are prepared.

Third, Greek debt is a “sunk cost.” For economic growth it is a moot point. The money has already been underutilized, growth has already suffered. The only thing left is for the realization of losses to rearrange balance sheets. Some banks may take losses, but the money does not disappear – it’s already been spent by retirees and the Greek government. The European Central Bank can count it as money creation, which will lead to more inflation over time. The IMF will take a loss, but a smaller IMF would actually be good for the world.

Fourth, the idea that other countries (Spain, Portugal or Italy) will decide they can default, too, is highly questionable. A default would bring added pain to the Greek economy, which is already devastated. No other country will want that. The true “moral hazard” would occur if Greece were bailed out without major budget and pension reform. Then, other countries could use the same strategy to get money and bailouts for themselves.

Finally, think about where many of these arguments are coming from. Keynesians tell us that government spending will increase growth. Then, when that doesn’t work, and an economy is teetering toward collapse, they say if we don’t bail it out the rest of the world is at risk. Heads, government gets bigger; Tails, the private sector gets smaller.

Robert Mundell, who invented the Euro, hoped that it would impose fiscal discipline on European countries. This would happen because they could not devalue their currency and hide problems with inflation. For the record, inflation doesn’t help anyone – it lowers living standards by reducing purchasing power. But, it does get the government off the hook for actually having to cut budgets, payrolls and pensions. The people who are hurt by this tend to get angry at the politicians who do it. Inflation is a more circuitous and hidden tax and lets politicians off the hook.

While the Euro didn’t stop Greece from borrowing its way into bankruptcy; it is finally imposing Mundell’s discipline. If the EU does the right thing, and forces true austerity or allows a default, then the Mundell hypothesis about a single currency will be proven correct. This could be the best thing that ever happened to Europe. Stay tuned.
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pre-emptive Dhimmitude from Oxford Press? on: June 16, 2015, 04:44:24 PM

OU answers:
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen. Bernie Sanders on: June 16, 2015, 01:45:09 PM
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: SpaceX and the Russian Rocket Mess on: June 16, 2015, 01:23:15 PM
The first thing to notice is how rapidly Elon Musk’s SpaceX is altering the market for government-sponsored rocket launches.

Witness how frequently the words “to compete with SpaceX” appear in industry statements and press coverage. To compete with SpaceX, say multiple reports, the United Launch Alliance, the Pentagon’s traditional supplier, is developing a new Vulcan rocket powered by a reusable engine designed by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.

Because of SpaceX, says Aviation Week magazine, Japan’s government has instructed Mitsubishi to cut in half the cost of the Japanese workhorse rocket, and China is planning a new family of kerosene-fueled Long March rockets. “Stimulated by SpaceX’s work on reusable rockets,” reports, Airbus is developing a reusable first stage for Europe’s venerable Ariane rocket.
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Business World Columnist Holman Jenkins Jr. on how the private rocket market is changing the economics of space exploration. Photo: Getty Images

All this comes amid one of those Washington battles ferocious in inverse relation to the certainties involved. Should Congress, however bad the precedent, climb down from sanctions enacted last December curtailing the Pentagon’s reliance on a Russian-made engine to put U.S. military satellites in orbit?

Yes, say the Pentagon, the national intelligence leadership and the White House, because avoiding disruption to crucial military launches is more important than any symbolic weakening of sanctions against Russia.

No, says Sen. John McCain, who criticizes “$300 million of precious U.S. defense resources subsidizing Vladimir Putin and the Russian military industrial base,” never mind that Pentagon dollars are not different from private dollars, which flow in abundance to Russia under a loopy sanction that does nothing to curb Russia’s booming engine sales to U.S. private commercial customers and even NASA.

Mr. McCain’s awkward ally is SpaceX, whose Mr. Musk did not get in business to tell the U.S. how to conduct relations with Mr. Putin. Nonetheless SpaceX would like a piece of the Pentagon launch business, for which its Falcon 9 rocket was finally certified last month. SpaceX supporters also argue that the Pentagon’s fear of being bereft of lift capacity is a tad overstated. SpaceX’s own Falcon 9, which has proved itself on NASA and private payloads, is capable of handling 60% of Pentagon payloads. Meanwhile, a heavier-lift version is coming, plus ULA’s proven if expensive Delta IV remains in the inventory.

Some SpaceX partisans, taking advantage of a meme-du-jour, accuse the Pentagon of “crony capitalism” for backing Lockheed and Boeing, owners of the United Launch Alliance joint venture, in their desire to keep using Russian motors for their Atlas V lifter. Such slurs are unnecessary. In fact, the Air Force has become a doughty cheerleader for competition, its Gen. John Hyten recently even calling for ending the $1 billion annual retainer to ULA in order to create a more level playing field for Mr. Musk and other bidders on a per-launch basis.

Another trope designed for journalistic ears accuses the ULA partners of “extortion” because its chief suggested its diversified parents might abandon the launch business altogether if forced out of business for several years by government fiat.

In fact, this could be a prudent business calculation. United Launch Alliance, an unnatural beast created by rivals Lockheed and Boeing to maintain the Pentagon’s access to 1970s-era rocketry, actually has been rather forward-leaning under its new CEO Tory Bruno, slashing costs and seeking private launch opportunities to counter the SpaceX challenge. But it’s not automatically obvious why ULA’s unlikely parents would pour fresh capital into a crippled joint venture.

So where do we come down? Let’s face it, the Pentagon argument trumps if national security is seriously being jeopardized. But the government appears to have decent options, existing and prospective, and could always revisit the question of Russian motors if other alternatives aren’t developing at a satisfactory rate.

And a distorting factor is the U.S. budget system. Using the sanctions opportunity to accelerate a competitive commercial lift market might actually be the pound-wise option in the long run if accounted for properly.

Unmentioned so far is the possibility that Mr. Putin down the road would use our continued dependence on Russian rockets against us. How big a threat to peace the Russian kleptocrat may prove is an open question; some of us suspect the worst is yet to come. That’s another reason why bearing slightly higher risks and costs now to develop a robust domestic launch capability might be the right choice even given Air Force and intelligence agency trepidation.
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fed's seizure of AIG ruled illegal on: June 16, 2015, 09:36:28 AM

June 15, 2015 7:16 p.m. ET

For every angry taxpayer who wondered in 2008 how the government could take over one of the world’s largest insurance companies, a federal judge has now provided the answer: It couldn’t, at least not within the bounds of the law.

On Monday Judge Thomas Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s seizure of a controlling stake in AIG during the financial crisis was “an illegal exaction under the Fifth Amendment.” The judge explains that the New York Fed, the Treasury and their outside counsel at the Davis Polk law firm “carefully orchestrated the AIG takeover so that shareholders would be excluded from the process. These entities avoided at all cost the opportunity for any shareholder vote.”

The Fed and its regional banks can lend in an emergency. But they lack the authority to seize ownership of private companies. Did government officials realize at the time that they were violating the Constitution? If so, they probably figured they could get away with it. In a Sept. 17, 2008 email, a Davis Polk lawyer wrote that “the [government] is on thin ice and they know it. But who’s going to challenge them on this ground?”

The man who did challenge them is former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, who now leads Starr International, which brought the case on behalf of AIG shareholders. Monday’s decision is vindication for Mr. Greenberg, who has argued for years that AIG was treated much more harshly than the giant banks and was used as a vehicle to rescue those banks.

Judge Wheeler agrees. “Since most of the other financial institutions experiencing a liquidity crisis were counterparties to AIG transactions, the Government was able to minimize the ripple effect of an AIG failure by using AIG’s assets to make sure the counterparties were paid in full on these transactions,” he writes.

The feds charged AIG much more than it charged the banks to borrow money, and it demanded 79.9% ownership in AIG for the privilege. “With the exception of AIG, the Government has never demanded equity ownership from a borrower in the 75-year history of Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act,” he writes. The feds later sold the shares for a $22.7 billion profit.

This is all a significant rebuke to the main government actors at the time: Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, chief of the New York Fed Tim Geithner, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Though Mr. Greenberg won the legal argument and a moral victory, he lost on his claim that AIG would have been better off in bankruptcy and thus should be compensated for the seizure. Judge Wheeler ruled that AIG shareholders would likely have been wiped out in a bankruptcy, so they can’t claim to have suffered harm. But the judge nonetheless adds that “a troubling feature of this outcome is that the Government is able to avoid any damages notwithstanding its plain violations of the Federal Reserve Act.”

Both sides are reviewing the decision and won’t say whether they plan to appeal, but the mixed verdict may be the best in a bad situation. Taxpayers will not be required to pay a damage amount that would be highly speculative. But the judicial branch of government has forcefully reminded the executive of its legal limits, even in a crisis.

Fed officials are upset that Congress wants to rein in their emergency and regulatory powers. Congress might have less cause to act if the Fed showed more respect for the law.
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gov. Jeb Bush Reboots on: June 16, 2015, 09:33:37 AM

Jeb Bush formally launched his presidential campaign on Monday, and no candidate needed it more. The former Florida Governor’s non-campaign so far has been curiously defensive, but now he has a new opening to make the case for why he can beat Hillary Clinton and be a worthy President.

Mr. Bush’s drawn-out pre-campaign allowed him to help his Super PAC raise money, and fundraising has been his biggest success to date. Money is an important measure of support, especially in a GOP field that is larger and more formidable than any in memory. Mr. Bush’s cash hoard will give him staying power to make it to the Florida primary or the later regional contests in an extended race.

But Mr. Bush’s long launch fuse has also made his candidacy seem more hesitant than dynamic, more biographical than about leading a larger cause. He has spent more time answering questions about his family name, and his brother’s foreign policy, than he has laying out his own campaign principles.

The focus on biography is especially harmful because many Republicans are instinctively averse to nominating the third Bush in 30 years. This does not mean Jeb should take the media bait of trying to explain how he is different than either his brother or his father. It does require offering a vision and agenda that are bold enough to set the terms of the debate, and then show that he can sell them.

The latter is important as a contrast with his brother, who had a difficult time making the case for conservative ideas. George W. was a back-slapper in a way Jeb is not, but Jeb understands policy in a way that George W. and their father George H.W. rarely made clear. Conservatives haven’t had a great political communicator since Reagan. Voters will make their own judgments about whether Jeb is a different, better brand of Bush.

In his announcement speech, Mr. Bush rightly made his primary goal to lift the country out of its Obama-era economic lethargy. “We will take Washington—the static capital of this dynamic country—out of the business of causing problems,” he said.

He set a target of returning to 4% annual growth in GDP, which may sound like a stretch after the Obama era of close to 2%. But the country had a run of 4%-plus growth in both the 1980s and 1990s, and Mr. Bush said so did Florida when he was Governor.

The 62-year-old made much of his Florida record, also with good cause. Along with former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mr. Bush is arguably the most successful state executive of the last 20 years.

“Bush made Florida into a laboratory of conservative governance,” writes Matthew Corrigan, a professor who is no conservative but whose book “Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida” is the definitive rebuttal to those who portray him as a moderate. It is also a way to contrast his experience with the Senate candidates who’ve never run anything.

In two terms Mr. Bush left his fast-growing state’s government relatively smaller and its tax burden lower. He reformed tort laws and eliminated racial preferences.

He was in particular a pioneer in education reform, especially school choice and despite a hostile state supreme court that ruled that school vouchers violated the state constitution’s Blaine Amendment, an anti-Catholic remnant of the 19th century.

Mr. Bush worked around the court with the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship that lets donors deduct from their tax bills contributions to school scholarships for private or public schools. It has since grown into one of the largest voucher programs in the country, and it has become a model for other states, most recently Nevada.

Another Bush asset is his proven ability to attract non-Republican voters. He stepped down as Governor with a nearly 60% approval rating in a state that Barack Obama carried twice and Bill Clinton once. Republicans can’t retake the White House without Florida and other swing states like Colorado and Virginia with growing minority populations.

In 2016 the biggest divide in the GOP field isn’t between conservatives and moderates. The most important contrast concerns political strategy and pits the dividers against the uniters. Mr. Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and perhaps Ohio Governor John Kasich think the GOP has to expand its appeal with an inclusive message of growth, upward mobility and a softer edge on the culture. Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum believe the path to the nomination and victory in 2016 is to polarize the national debate around immigration and cultural issues.

The polarizing strategy was plausible when the GOP could claim a presidential majority. But Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six elections, and demography is moving their way. That is why Mrs. Clinton is so eager to run as an Elizabeth Warren-Barack Obama polarizer. Conservatives will do better if they seek to expand the GOP and make a case for unifying the country.

Mr. Bush’s candidacy enlivens this GOP debate and adds to the list of candidates who would give the coronated Mrs. Clinton a run for the Clinton Foundation’s money.
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren on: June 16, 2015, 09:28:31 AM

Michael B. Oren
June 15, 2015 7:09 p.m. ET

‘Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes.” When I was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to the end of 2013, that was my standard response to reporters asking who bore the greatest responsibility—President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—for the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations.

I never felt like I was lying when I said it. But, in truth, while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately.

Israel blundered in how it announced the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods and communities in Jerusalem over the border lines that existed before the Six Day War in 1967. On two occasions, the news came out during Mr. Netanyahu’s meetings with Vice President Joe Biden. A solid friend of Israel, Mr. Biden understandably took offense. Even when the White House stood by Israel, blocking hostile resolutions in the United Nations, settlement expansion often continued.

In a May 2011 Oval Office meeting, Mr. Netanyahu purportedly “lectured” Obama about the peace process. Later that year, he was reported to be backing Republican contenderMitt Romney in the presidential elections. This spring, the prime minister criticized Mr. Obama’s Iran policy before a joint meeting of Congress that was arranged without even informing the president.

Yet many of Israel’s bungles were not committed by Mr. Netanyahu personally. In both episodes with Mr. Biden, for example, the announcements were issued by midlevel officials who also caught the prime minister off-guard. Nevertheless, he personally apologized to the vice president.

Mr. Netanyahu’s only premeditated misstep was his speech to Congress, which I recommended against. Even that decision, though, came in reaction to a calculated mistake by President Obama. From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader. But Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.

The first principle was “no daylight.” The U.S. and Israel always could disagree but never openly. Doing so would encourage common enemies and render Israel vulnerable. Contrary to many of his detractors, Mr. Obama was never anti-Israel and, to his credit, he significantly strengthened security cooperation with the Jewish state. He rushed to help Israel in 2011 when the Carmel forest was devastated by fire. And yet, immediately after his first inauguration, Mr. Obama put daylight between Israel and America.

“When there is no daylight,” the president told American Jewish leaders in 2009, “Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.” The explanation ignored Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and its two previous offers of Palestinian statehood in Gaza, almost the entire West Bank and half of Jerusalem—both offers rejected by the Palestinians.

Mr. Obama also voided President George W. Bush’s commitment to include the major settlement blocs and Jewish Jerusalem within Israel’s borders in any peace agreement. Instead, he insisted on a total freeze of Israeli construction in those areas—“not a single brick,” I later heard he ordered Mr. Netanyahu—while making no substantive demands of the Palestinians.

Consequently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted negotiations, reconciled with Hamas and sought statehood in the U.N.—all in violation of his commitments to the U.S.—but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel.

The other core principle was “no surprises.” President Obama discarded it in his first meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, in May 2009, by abruptly demanding a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution. The following month the president traveled to the Middle East, pointedly skipping Israel and addressing the Muslim world from Cairo.

Israeli leaders typically received advance copies of major American policy statements on the Middle East and could submit their comments. But Mr. Obama delivered his Cairo speech, with its unprecedented support for the Palestinians and its recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear power, without consulting Israel.

Similarly, in May 2011, the president altered 40 years of U.S. policy by endorsing the 1967 lines with land swaps—formerly the Palestinian position—as the basis for peace-making. If Mr. Netanyahu appeared to lecture the president the following day, it was because he had been assured by the White House, through me, that no such change would happen.

Israel was also stunned to learn that Mr. Obama offered to sponsor a U.N. Security Council investigation of the settlements and to back Egyptian and Turkish efforts to force Israel to reveal its alleged nuclear capabilities. Mr. Netanyahu eventually agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction—the first such moratorium since 1967—and backed the creation of a Palestinian state. He was taken aback, however, when he received little credit for these concessions from Mr. Obama, who more than once publicly snubbed him.

The abandonment of the “no daylight” and “no surprises” principles climaxed over the Iranian nuclear program. Throughout my years in Washington, I participated in intimate and frank discussions with U.S. officials on the Iranian program. But parallel to the talks came administration statements and leaks—for example, each time Israeli warplanes reportedly struck Hezbollah-bound arms convoys in Syria—intended to deter Israel from striking Iran pre-emptively.

Finally, in 2014, Israel discovered that its primary ally had for months been secretly negotiating with its deadliest enemy. The talks resulted in an interim agreement that the great majority of Israelis considered a “bad deal” with an irrational, genocidal regime. Mr. Obama, though, insisted that Iran was a rational and potentially “very successful regional power.”

The daylight between Israel and the U.S. could not have been more blinding. And for Israelis who repeatedly heard the president pledge that he “had their backs” and “was not bluffing” about the military option, only to watch him tell an Israeli interviewer that “a military solution cannot fix” the Iranian nuclear threat, the astonishment could not have been greater.

Now, with the Middle East unraveling and dependable allies a rarity, the U.S. and Israel must restore the “no daylight” and “no surprises” principles. Israel has no alternative to America as a source of security aid, diplomatic backing and overwhelming popular support. The U.S. has no substitute for the state that, though small, remains democratic, militarily and technologically robust, strategically located and unreservedly pro-American.

The past six years have seen successive crises in U.S.-Israeli relations, and there is a need to set the record straight. But the greater need is to ensure a future of minimal mistakes and prevent further erosion of our vital alliance.

Mr. Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States and a member of the Knesset, is the author of “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” (Random House, 2015).
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Japanese exchnage student on: June 12, 2015, 07:05:03 PM


    First Day In School With Exchange Student

    The teacher said, "Let's begin by reviewing some American History. Who said 'Give me Liberty , or give me Death’?" She saw a sea of blank faces, except for Little Hodakio, a bright foreign exchange student from Japan, who had his hand up: "Patrick Henry, 1775," he said.
    "Very good!
    Who said, ‘Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from the Earth.’ Again, no response except from Little Hodakio: "Abraham Lincoln, 1863.”
    "Excellent!" said the teacher continuing, "Let's try one a bit more difficult. Who said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’?" Once again, Hodakio's was the only hand in the air and he said: "John F. Kennedy, 1961.”
    The teacher snapped at the class, "Class, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Little Hodakio isn't from this country and he knows more about our history than you do.”
    She heard a loud whisper:”F_ _ k the Japs."
    "Who said that? I want to know right now!? she angrily demanded.
    Little Hodakio put his hand up, “General MacArthur, 1945.”
    At that point, a student in the back said, "I'm gonna puke.'
    The teacher glares around and asks, 'All right! Now who said that?”
    Again, Little Hodakio says, “George Bush to the Japanese Prime Minister, 1991.”
    Now furious, another student yells, "Oh yeah? Suck this!"
    Little Hodakio jumps out of his chair waving his hand and shouts to the teacher, "Bill Clinton, to Monica Lewinsky, 1997!”
    Now with almost mob hysteria someone said, "You little sh*t! If you say anything else, I'll kill you!”
    Little Hodakio frantically yells at the top of his voice, "Michael Jackson to the children testifying against him, 2004.”
    The teacher fainted.
    As the class gathered around the teacher on the floor, someone said, "Oh sh*t, we're screwed!" Little Hodakio said quietly, “The American people, November 4, 2008."

146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Clinton accused by CIA Director George Tenet on: June 12, 2015, 05:47:28 PM
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Debating Bible Verse on Homosexuality on: June 12, 2015, 05:36:01 PM
Debating Bible Verses on Homosexuality

Two evangelical authors offer conflicting interpretations about well-known passages on homosexuality. JUNE 8, 2015 Related Article

The debate over gay marriage is not just taking place in the nation’s courts – it is also a subject of intense discussion in the nation’s churches.

Matthew Vines, an openly gay, evangelical Christian and the author of “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships,” has been actively encouraging conservative Christians to re-evaluate their beliefs about homosexuality. He has engaged them in private conversations, in public talks and through the organization he founded, the Reformation Project.

He was recently invited by the Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach, lead pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, Calif,, to talk privately with a small group of evangelical leaders to discuss what the Bible says about gay relationships. Mr. Kaltenbach is the author of the forthcoming book “Messy Grace,” which is about how he reconciles his conservative Christian convictions with his experience as the child of gay parents.

After the session, they were each asked to interpret some of the most cited verses relating to homosexuality in the Bible. (Text from the New International Version, 1984 edition.)

    Romans 1:26-27

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
    Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
    Caleb Kaltenbach
    Lead pastor of Discovery Church in Simi Valley, Calif.

    In this passage, Paul, who was quite familiar with biblical and secular views of sexual orientation, says that having sex with someone of the same gender is a sin. Some interpret this passage as a reference to heterosexuals who exchanged their natural sexual orientation for that which was not natural to them. The word that Paul uses for “natural” is not referring to what is natural to a specific person, but rather what is natural in light of God's intent for the sexual design of humanity. Ultimately, the passage serves as an introduction to verses 28-32, where Paul lists many other general sins that ultimately show our need for the Gospel.
    Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
    Matthew Vines
    Author of “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.”

    Paul is explicit that the same-sex behavior in this passage is motivated by lust. His description is similar to the common ancient idea that people “exchange” opposite-sex for same-sex relations because they are driven by out-of-control desire, not because they have a different sexual orientation. And while Paul labels same-sex behavior “unnatural,” he uses the same word to criticize long hair in men in 1 Corinthians 11:14, which most Christians read as a synonym for “unconventional.” Christians should continue to affirm with Paul that we shouldn’t engage in sexual behavior out of self-seeking lustfulness. But that’s very different than same-sex marriages that are based on self-giving love, and we shouldn’t conflate the two in how we interpret this text today.
    Leviticus 18:22

    Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
    Caleb Kaltenbach

    God’s prohibition always has positive intentions. While no longer under the Law, Christians see the Law as a moral compass with principles for holy living. The Bible doesn’t have middle ground on same-sex relationships, monogamous or not. God reserves sex for marriage between a man and woman, because sex is a unique foundation of intimacy. Imagine all the evils, struggles and pain that could be avoided in relationships if we really followed God’s principles. When sex is only seen as a benefit for individuals rather than a foundation of social structures, it becomes selfish and manipulative.
    Matthew Vines

    Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law, and the New Testament teaches that Christians should live under the new covenant rather than the old one. Consequently, this verse has never applied to Christians. For a man to lie with a man “as with a woman” violated the patriarchal gender norms of the ancient world, which is likely why Leviticus prohibited it. But the New Testament casts a vision of God’s kingdom in which the hierarchy between men and women is overcome in Christ. So not only is Leviticus’s prohibition inapplicable to Christians on its own, the rationale behind it doesn’t extend to Christians, either.
    Matthew 19:3-6

    Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
    Caleb Kaltenbach

    Jesus says that marriage is between a man and a woman by quoting Genesis 1:27. He affirms that God created sexual distinction between man and woman and this distinction serves as part of the foundation for marriage (helping to make Adam and Eve suitable partners). Spiritually, this distinction ultimately points to Jesus and the cross, where Jesus (the bridegroom) would pledge his love for his church (the bride) on the cross. As Jesus' words are binding for today, remember that there was no individual in the Bible called to be celibate that was not honored by God, including Paul, John the Baptist and Jesus himself.
    Matthew Vines

    Jesus responds to a question about divorce by emphasizing the permanence of the marriage bond. He was asked about a man and his wife, and he responds accordingly, by referring to male and female. Same-sex marriage wasn’t on the radar screen in the biblical world, so it’s not surprising that neither Jesus nor any of the biblical writers addresses it. Therefore, Christians today have to ask whether gay relationships can fulfill the core principles of Scripture’s teachings about marriage. Based on Jesus’ teaching here and other texts like Ephesians 5, the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one's spouse in order to reflect God’s covenant with us through Christ. That’s something same-sex couples can and do live out today.
    1 Corinthians 6:9-10

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    Caleb Kaltenbach

    These words are found in the Greek translation of Leviticus 18 (which is what Paul would've used as a source when writing this letter). His phrase “men who have sex with men” is the Greek word arsenokoitai. It's a compound: arseno means “a male,” and koitai means “bed.” The word means “male bed”—or homosexuality. Though what Paul says might be offensive, he never intended to impose these values on non-Christians. In the current debate of same-sex marriage, there's an imposition of a meta-narrative being imposed from non-Christians to Christians. Should we violate our conscience and teachings of Scripture because of an agenda that labels us narrow-minded? That seems like an unfair expectation to me.

    Matthew Vines

    In this text, Paul uses two Greek words—malakoi and arsenokoitai—that likely refer to some forms of male same-sex behavior, but not the modern concept of homosexuality. The predominant forms of same-sex behavior in the ancient world were sex between masters and slaves, sex between adult men and adolescent boys, and prostitution. In all those cases, men used sex to express power, dominance and lustfulness, not self-giving love and mutuality. Committed same-sex unions between social equals represent very different values than the types of same-sex behavior Paul would have had in view in 1 Corinthians 6.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: June 12, 2015, 04:39:03 PM
Morris wrote this based upon a mistaken report that the bill had passed.

The Disgraceful Trade Vote
Published on on June 12, 2015
All but 54 courageous Republicans sided with President Obama to approve giving this president fast track authority to OK trade deals.

As a result, trade pacts will require only a majority vote in each house rather than the two-thirds specified for treaties in the Constitution. (I did not realize this!!!) And no amendments will be allowed.  Debate will be limited and no filibusters permitted.

The spectacle of Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, fighting to give this president more power -- and Congress less -- is revolting.

And there is nothing to stop him from inserting anything he wants in the trade pacts.  He can use them to advance his climate change agenda or to allow unrestricted immigration (free flow of labor).  Obama promises not to do so, but what are his commitments worth?

So now don't trust Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or Ryan when they protest Obama's executive power grabs.  They handed him this one.

And it isn't about trade.  75% of the trade covered is with Canada and Mexico.  We already have NAFTA guaranteeing free trade with them.  This is about permitting a treaty to override the ability of state legislatures and Congress to govern such areas as genetic modification, intellectual property, and the like.  It is a fraud and the Republicans who voted for it all deserve primary fights!
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WEsbury: Inflation is coming, and will arrive sooner and bigger than expected on: June 12, 2015, 02:33:38 PM
The Producer Price Index Rose 0.5% in May To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 6/12/2015

The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.5% in May, coming in above the consensus expected gain of 0.4%. Producer prices are down 1.0% versus a year ago.
Energy prices rose 5.9% in May while food prices increased 0.8%. Producer prices excluding food and energy were up 0.1%.

In the past year, prices for services are up 0.6%, while prices for goods are down 4.1%. Private capital equipment prices declined 0.1% in May and were unchanged in the past year.

Prices for intermediate processed goods increased 1.0% in May, and are down 6.8% versus a year ago. Prices for intermediate unprocessed goods increased 3.3% in May, but are down 23.4% versus a year ago.

Implications: If the Fed was looking for reassurance that “transitory factors” holding down inflation may be starting to give way, they got it just in time for next week’s meeting. Energy prices, which have been the key driver pushing prices lower since mid-2014, were up 5.9% in May and are up 18.7% at an annual rate over the past three months. As a result, overall prices have been moving higher as well. The 0.5% increase in overall producer prices in May was the largest gain for any month since 2012. Since March, producer prices are up at a 1.5% annual rate. Prices outside the volatile food and energy sectors have been relatively quiet over the past year. Service prices have increased 0.6% while “core” goods, which exclude food and energy, are up 0.5%. However, given the extended period of loose monetary policy and the recent (partial) rebound in oil prices, we expect inflation to pick up in the year ahead and to do so more quickly than most investors expect. The Fed can see this too, and it is their expectations for future inflation, more than the rearview mirror, that guide their decisions. If they believe inflation is starting to turn higher, a June rate hike could certainly be on the table. Other factors may play a role in their decision as well. For example, May saw price declines in trade, transportation and warehousing, which may still be hangover from the West Coast port strikes. These effects won’t last, though, and when they fade inflation will move higher. In turn, this likely means higher bond yields and a more aggressive Fed than is right now priced into market expectations.
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: June 11, 2015, 11:48:40 PM
You are right, that is NOT the link I thought I was posting. cheesy cheesy cheesy
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